Magazine article American Theatre

Apocalypse Then

Magazine article American Theatre

Apocalypse Then

Article excerpt

TIME AND GENRE EVAPORATE IN

Elsewhere, a multimedia "cello opera" premiering Oct. 11 at Carolina Performing Arts in Chapel Hill, N.C., then traveling to the Brooklyn Academy of Music Oct. 17-20. Created by super-cellist Maya Beiser and iconoclastic director Robert Woodruff, Elsewhere is performed by Beiser and vocalist Helga Davis, who enact a conversation between Lot's nameless Wife, of Old Testament fame, and the gentle protagonist of the 1938 prose-poem I Am Writing to You from a Far Off Country, by Belgian surrealist writer Henri Michaux. The two characters--backed up by a film by Peter Nigrini and four dancers choreographed by Karole Armitage--bear witness to the ends of their worlds and share a dialogue across time and space.

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Elsewhere began as Far Off Country, a recording of Michaux's poem with music by composer Eve Beglarian, for Beiser's album Another Place. Performed live, however, something felt missing, and Beiser enlisted Woodruff, a previous collaborator, to help turn the recitation into a stand-alone theatrical event. Tt soon became clear that Michaux's heroine needed another woman to talk to. Enter Lot's Wife, who famously defied God's command when she looked back at Sodom's demise and was turned into a pillar of salt. Screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson was commissioned to flesh out the skeletal story, and Missy Mazzoli was brought on to compose the score. The composition that resulted, called Salt, forms the second half of Elsewhere, which was workshopped in 2011 at Mass MoCA in North Adams, Mass. …

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